By FRAN MAYE
They remember when George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers rocked the Anvil Inn in Kennett Square, which at the time was located near the CVS Pharmacy off Route 1 in Kennett Square.
They remember the soda fountain at the three-story Newberry’s Department Store, now the site of LaVerona’s and The Kennett Flash in Kennett Square. Live baby alligators could be purchased in the pet section on the bottom floor.
They remember getting cherry cokes at Connors Drug Store. And drinking mountain crèmes and cherry smashes at Reese’s Soda Fountain at Broad and Cedar streets.
They remember going to the Kennett Kandy Kitchen, which is now the Half Moon Restaurant. They talk about how the floor of the Half Moon is the same one used by the Kandy Kitchen.
And just about all agree that back in the day, the Pizza Gallery on State Street had the best pie in town. And they enjoyed playing Asteroids, Pac Man and Space Invaders when they went there.
The memories flow on the Facebook site of “You Know You Are From Kennett Square When…” which began about three years ago and now has just over 1,000 members. The Kennett Square site is one of the many nostalgia Facebook groups that are popping up all over the nation.
People gather online to post photos and reconnect with old friends, who remember things like buying a can of paint at Beard’s Paint Store on the 100 block of W. State Street, near Schmaltz’s Hardware Store.
Michael Baker, a regular contributor, remembers the Saturday matinees at the movie house on State Street. For a quarter, he remembers getting to watch two cartoons, a movietime newsreel, a film short and a feature length film like “Kissin Cousins,” “Bridge Over the River Kwai” or “Cleopatra.” On Halloween, monster movies were featured and adults dressed as scary characters walked the aisles.
Baker, who graduated in 1968, worked at the ARCO gas station on the corner of West Cypress and Center streets, where he pumped gas for 34.9 cents per gallon, and washed windshields and checked oil for free. People would often put ARCO’s red styrofoam ball on their radio antennas.
Like any vibrant community back then, Kennett Square had a bowling alley, PAAC Lanes, which was located where Rubenstein’s Stationary Store is today. “PAAC Lanes was it,” commented Linda Daniels.
And it seems just about everyone born before 1950 remembers the great blizzard of 1958. The weight of the snow on that day – Feb. 16 -- forced a roof above Mason’s Chevrolet to collapse, crushing 19 cars. The entire town was without electricity for a week, and school was closed. Drifts were 20 feet high. One contributor recalls how Paul and Mary Biondi had a gas range, and made spaghetti and coffee for the entire neighborhood.
Every now and then, people post photos of buildings and people, some as far back as 1907. There a photo of a trolley that made a stop at State and Union streets en route to West Chester; there’s a photo of the original Kennett High School; there’s a photo of the 1910 Cedarcroft Football team; a photo of the big fire at Connors Pharmacy in 1952; and a photo of the Kennett Square Hotel fire a few months later in the same year.
Only old-timers will remember that the current Kennett Area YMCA outdoor pool was once called the Kennett Pool, which was used by the Kennett Dolphins swim team.
Or that three was once an ice skating pond directly in front of Kennett High School, where people would take their old Christmas trees and have a bonfire. Lisa Leonzis remembers she used to skate there with Tina Bogle and Jane Thomas, and a white flag meant it was OK to skate. Red flags signaled everyone to stay off the ice.
Some people share personal childhood memories on the site:
“I remember living on Meredith Street and I was 5 years old,” Baker said. “My mom was on the phone. I kept pestering her to walk me around the corner to McKay’s Magnolia Market so I could buy some of the ever-so-popular little bottle shaped wax things that were filled with some dyed flavored nectar. I think I had a penny or two in my pocket. I kept on begging my mom. She kept right on with her phone call. I finally had enough. I walked right out of the front door to McKay’s and purchased the treasure. I walked back home to a most unpleasant surprise. Spanking included.”
Said Elaine Fiore: “I remember doing a book report and was told that I must have made up the story. It was not acceptable. I went to the (Kennett High School) high school library, got the book and gave it to the teacher to prove that the story was true.”
Baker said he remembers when doctors in Kennett Square made house calls, and a visit to the doctor’s office was just $2. “People smoked in the waiting room, and the doctor had a cigarette butt hanging out of his mouth which he listened to your heart and lungs,” he said.
Many, many other memories abound on the site, which beams with information that will be kept alive for generations, thanks to technology. How many people can remember that Kennett Pizza and Pasta was once home to the Pizza Doctor? Or that the Red Lantern Inn was once the home of what is today Wayward Beverage? Or that the American Legion in Kennett Square once played Kung Fu movies?
Nostalgia, it seems is popular in Kennett Square. And technology is keeping it alive.
You know you are from Kennett Square when you:
• Partied at Mendenhall Field
• Had a cheesesteak at Ferrero’s
• Bought a 45 RPM record at Kennett Radio
• Bought converse sneakers at Sheldon’s Department Store
• Had a hoagie at Johnson’s market